Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night, by Kresley Cole

>> Saturday, September 19, 2009

TITLE: Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night
AUTHOR: Kresley Cole

PAGES: 359

SETTING: Contemporary
TYPE: Paranormal romance
SERIES: 4th in the Immortals After Dark series

REASON FOR READING: I've enjoyed the first books in this series.

Her breathless kiss haunts him...

Bowen MacRieve of the Lykae clan was nearly destroyed when he lost the one woman meant for him. The ruthless warrior grew even colder, never taking another to his bed -- until a smoldering encounter with his enemy, Mariketa the Awaited, reawakens his darkest desires. When sinister forces unite against her, the Highlander finds himself using all his strength and skill to keep her alive.

His slow, hot touch is irresistible...

Temporarily stripped of her powers, Mari is forced to take refuge with her sworn adversary. It's rumored that no one can tempt Bowen's hardened heart, but soon passion burns between them. Though a future together is impossible, she fears he has no intention of letting her go.

No deed is too wicked for her seduction...

If they defeat the evil that surrounds them, can Mari deny Bowen when he demands her body and soul -- or will she risk everything for her fierce protector?
WDOAWN takes place much at the same time as the previous book in the series, No Rest For The Wicked. I'm not going to bother summarising the mythology here, as this is NOT the place to start in this series. If you're thinking of giving Kresley Cole a try, I'd say start at the beginning, although I'd say you wouldn't be too lost if you started with No Rest For The Wicked.

Anyway, like NRFTW, a lot of the action in this book takes place during the Talisman Hie, that paranormal Amazing Race-like competition in which the participants face horrific dangers in pursuit of a prize, this time an artifact which will allow them to time travel.

One of the competitors is the young witch known as Mariketa the Awaited. Mariketa hasn't yet succeeded in mastering her powers and is really anxious to come into her own. All her fellow witches know she's the one they've been waiting for, but no one yet knows why, and Mariketa is starting to get a bit discouraged by the constant magical misfires. She hopes winning the Talisman Hie will be a way to kickstart her work as a proper witch.

Also participating in the Hie is Bowen MacRieve, a Lykae we met in the first book, A Hunger Like No Other. Bowen was the one everyone felt extremely sorry for in that book. He was pitied so much because he'd lost his mate, and Lykae mate forever, and only once in their lives. And it's even worse: it is well known that Lykae can never be happy or fulfilled if they're unmated. Ever since his mate's death, Bowen has definitely not been a happy man. He's been bloody miserable, in fact, for the last couple of centuries. Guess why he entered the Hie?

But the Hie brings a huge surprise to Bowen. When he meets Mariketa, his Instinct (the way Lykae recognise their mates) tells him quite unequivocally that she's his mate. Bowen's shocked, but he has some ideas about what's going on. Witches are tricky and can't be trusted, so it's quite obvious that this one's put a spell on him to deceive his Instinct. That's all it is, really. Either that, or Mariketa is the reincarnation of his mate, but Bowen's pretty sure it's that evil witch playing tricks on him to win the Hie. Too bad he can't seem to control his feelings for her, even knowing the truth.

I have to confess I wasn't too enthusiastic about reading a story where the hero is still mourning the lost love of his life. I freely admit I have a bit of a double standart there: if it had been the heroine in that position, I'd have been all "ohhhh, I want!" But since it's Bowen, not so much. However, this is Kresley Cole, after all, so I gave it a shot, and I must say I ended up really liking what Cole did with it.

Doing a good fated mates story can be tricky. When I read a romance, I want to actually see the protagonists fall in love, not simply being told that they're in love because it's been preordained, and that is that. Having Bowen be so convinced that the instinct telling him that Mariketa is his mate is wrong made it necessary for them to actually get to know each other and fall in love before deciding to be together. This not only avoided boring shortcuts, but also succeeded in convincing me Bowen and Mariketa really were right for each other. In fact, the mates thing actually created more conflict, adding to the trust problems they already had due to Mariketa being a witch and Bowen's prejudices.

If anything, the combination of Bowen's lost mate and his instinct pointing him towards Mariketa made things more difficult, and in this case, difficult was good. No one does angst the way Kresley Cole does, combining it with humour and a lot of steaminess (and there was a LOT of the latter... Bowen has been celibate for years, and this doesn't help his self-control where Mariketa is concerned).

Bowen is a great big alpha, but I thought Mariketa was a really good match for him. She doesn't start out too promising: she's young and inexperienced, and prone to disaster in her magic. He, meanwhile is old, experienced and powerful. However, this is a bit of a coming of age story for Mariketa, and very soon, I felt shex was able to stand her ground perfectly well with Bowen. It ended up being a relationship among equals, despite Bowen's Lykae possessiveness.

As always, Cole's world is very original and fun to be in. Some of the Valkyries still give me headaches, but I think they're actually growing on me with time!



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